Overwhelming public support for police ramming tactic
News that the police will use ramming and other radical stop tactics has been met with almost universal approval from bikers and ordinary members of the public. But not a certain MP…
As news spread on Friday that the Met Police was now allowing specialist ’Skorpion’ drivers to literally ram moped riding criminals off stolen bikes, motorcyclists gave a collective fist pump. And so did the general public, equally fed up with having to deal with feral criminals running amok on city streets.
“Not before time!”, ”Anything the police do to them to get them caught I’m ok with !” and “I suspect there’s a bit of payback from the old bill now the shackles have been loosened – good on ‘em,” were typical of the positive reception from the public posting on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. One wag also mocked up the picture of the police car with ‘mopeds down’ stickers, like fighter pilots collecting kills.
There were plenty of calls to see the tactic used outside of the capital, too. “Can they please do it in Nottingham as well?”, and “Fully agree with this and 100% support it. Hats off to the police, hope this rolls out across the whole country soon,” were just two of comments made on Biker & Bike’s own post about the news.
Many people were concerned that officers may still be liable for prosecution under dangerous driving laws but still supported the action. On Facebook, one poster said, “Let us hope that the public, the press/media ( especially them) and senior police management and politicians fully support the police officers unreservedly on this and if there are injuries, the officers are not forced to stop, not suspended, not hung out to dry. 100% support no less.”
In an MCN Twitter poll, bikers were asked if they agreed with the new police tactic. 98% said they did, at the last count over 1,500 people voting in favour and just 29 against – on the grounds that people might get hurt.
There are some dissenting voices though. MP Diane Abbot tweeted, “Knocking people off bikes is potentially very dangerous. It shouldn’t be legal for anyone. Police are not above the law.”
On LBC radio, one caller tried to make the point that police should be setting an example to the riders who are, in her opinion, ‘just kids’ and that the police tactic was ‘desperate’ because they were ‘losing the fight against moped riders’ and the police actions were ‘just wrong’. After pointing out the tactic has helped produce a 36% reduction in moped enabled crimes, presenter Tom Swarbrick challenged her view: “What’s wrong is young teenagers resorting to riding around chucking acid in people’s faces, stabbing people and nicking phones out of their hands.”
The caller, who also questioned how it was possible to stab someone when they are riding a moped was put in her place on social media. One poster reacting to her call said, “‘How can a moped rider stab someone while they’re riding?’ Complete ignorance. Very sad.” Another commented, “The caller’s a prime example of why we are in the situation we are in. The ‘we can’t touch them because they are kids and they might get hurt’, quite frankly I don’t care, more interested in the hard working people losing their property and the life-changing injuries some are receiving at the hands of these w*****s.” These are just two of the printable quotes from hundreds of people outraged by her opinions. Elsewhere, LBC listeners were in raptures over the news of the police’s new tactics.
Channel 5 presenter Jeremy Vine seemed to be trying to defend the rights of the criminal but misjudged the public mood: “Do you think police are right to ram moped thieves with their patrol cars, knocking suspected criminals as young as 14 off their bikes? Officers say it’s reduced offending but is it a step too far? What if they seriously injure them or get the wrong person? Or are they just doing what they have to do to stop crime?” One Facebook user responded, “Not being funny but if they don’t want to get injured or end up potentially being killed then stop stealing. Simple.” Others made the point that the criminals themselves were just as likely to cause harm: “These motorcycle/moped gangs don’t care who they hurt in the process of their crimes. Why should we care if they’re hurt attempting to escape from the police?”
When we asked the Met Police what they thought of the mass approval from the public their response was strictly business-like. Chief Inspector Jim Corbett, Operation Venice, said: “The Met is at the forefront of tackling moped and motorcycle crime and we will continue to work tirelessly across London to maintain a downward trend in offences.
“The public quite rightly expects us to intervene to keep London safe. Our highly trained police drivers weigh up the risks and decide upon the most appropriate tactics in those circumstances.
“Offenders on mopeds and motorcycles who attempt to evade the police are making a choice that puts themselves and others at risk.
“So our message is clear: we can, we will and we do target those involved in moped and motorcycle crime at every opportunity.”
The officer was probably smiling as he typed out the email response.